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Beowulf: An Introduction to the Study of the Poem with a Discussion of the Stories of Offa and Finn   By: (1874-1942)

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First Page:

Transcriber's note: In Germanic languages [=a] signifies "a macron"; [o,] "o with Ogonek"; and so forth. [gh] represents yogh.

[Illustration: Drida (Thryth) reproached for her Evil Deeds

From MS Cotton Nero D. I, fol. 11 b

"That is no way for a lady to behave." (Ne bið swylc cw[=e]nl[=i]c þ[=e]aw idese t[=o] efnanne:

Beowulf , ll 1940 1.) ]

BEOWULF

AN INTRODUCTION TO THE STUDY OF THE POEM WITH A DISCUSSION OF THE STORIES OF OFFA AND FINN

BY

R. W. CHAMBERS

Dey mout er bin two deloojes: en den agin dey moutent. UNCLE REMUS, The Story of the Deluge .

CAMBRIDGE AT THE UNIVERSITY PRESS 1921

TO

PROF. WILLIAM WITHERLE LAWRENCE

DEAR PROF. LAWRENCE,

When, more than four years ago, I asked you to allow me to dedicate this volume to you, it was as a purely personal token of gratitude for the help I had received from what you have printed, and from what you have written to me privately.

Since then much has happened: the debt is greater, and no longer purely personal. We in this country can never forget what we owe to your people. And the self denial which led them voluntarily to stint themselves of food, that we in Europe might be fed, is one of many things about which it is not easy to speak. Our heart must indeed have been hardened if we had not considered the miracle of those loaves. But I fear that to refer to that great debt in the dedication to this little book may draw on me the ridicule incurred by the poor man who dedicated his book to the Universe.

Nevertheless, as a fellow of that College which has just received from an American donor the greatest benefaction for medical research which has ever been made in this country of ours, I may rejoice that the co operation between our nations is being continued in that warfare against ignorance and disease which some day will become the only warfare waged among men.

Sceal hring naca ofer heafu bringan l[=a]c ond luf t[=a]cen. Ic þ[=a] l[=e]ode w[=a]t ge wið f[=e]ond ge wið fr[=e]ond fæste geworhte, [=æ]ghwæs unt[=æ]le ealde w[=i]san. R. W. C.

{vii}

PREFACE

I have to thank various colleagues who have read proofs of this book, in whole or in part: first and foremost my old teacher, W. P. Ker; also Robert Priebsch, J. H. G. Grattan, Ernest Classen and two old students, Miss E. V. Hitchcock and Mrs Blackman. I have also to thank Prof. W. W. Lawrence of Columbia; and though there are details where we do not agree, I think there is no difference upon any important issues. If in these details I am in the right, this is largely due to the helpful criticism of Prof. Lawrence, which has often led me to reconsider my conclusions, and to re state them more cautiously, and, I hope, more correctly. If, on the other hand, I am in the wrong, then it is thanks to Prof. Lawrence that I am not still more in the wrong.

From Axel Olrik, though my debt to him is heavy, I find myself differing on several questions. I had hoped that what I had to urge on some of these might have convinced him, or, better still, might have drawn from him a reply which would have convinced me. But the death of that great scholar has put an end to many hopes, and deprived many of us of a warm personal friend. It would be impossible to modify now these passages expressing dissent, for the early pages of this book were printed off some years ago. I can only repeat that it is just because of my intense respect for the work of Dr Olrik that, where I cannot agree with his conclusions, I feel bound to go into the matter at length. Names like those of Olrik, Bradley, Chadwick and Sievers carry rightly such authority as to make it the duty of those who differ, if only on minor details, to justify that difference if they can.

From Dr Bradley especially I have had help in discussing various of these problems: also from Mr Wharton of the British Museum, Prof... Continue reading book >>




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